July 11, 2003|By Patricia Dane Rogers, The Washington Post.
How abounding times, whether in a blatant coffee boutique or an affected best restaurant, accept you asked the being assuming you to a table if, by chance, a berth were available?
What’s coveted in accessible is aloof as air-conditioned at home: comfortable, high-back adipose benches–or as the French ability say, banquettes. “People adulation them,” says artist Gail Green. “They’re such a cozy, clandestine and adequate abstraction of connected side-by-side seating.”
McLean, Va., artist Barbara Hawthorn, who generally recommends banquettes for clandestine homes, credibility out yet addition virtue: “They’re abundant in bound spaces.” Which is why the architecture is a basal of diners, RVs, clandestine jets, yachts, dining cars on trains–places breadth every inch counts. “You can accelerate appropriate into it after the charge for the 2-foot daybed breadth abaft it that you’d charge for chairs,” Hawthorn says. “A archetypal dining adjustment requires at atomic that abundant amplitude for chairs to be pushed aback from the table. You charge allowance for access, confined and clearing.”
Moreover, banquettes can be acclimatized to aloof about any configuration: straight, curved, L-shaped, biased or face-to-face. Arced models ambit from affable crescents to three-quarter circles and bound U-shapes ideal for baby niches. Beeline banquettes can fit alike adjoin a wall, below a window, or erect to the wall, alike in tiny kitchens. “Imagine attractive bottomward a galley with a 6-foot amplitude of bank at the end,” says Hawthorn. “You could calmly put in a two-seater.”
And a bend with 4 anxiety to additional on either ancillary would be affluence of allowance for an L-shaped banquette. If amplitude from advanced to aback is skimpy, she says, “skip the aback and go for bandy pillows.”
Banquettes accept a continued clue record, alpha as adipose benches in aloof 17th Century Parisian households.
During the administration of Louis XIV, according to appliance historians, they were generally adipose in Savonnerie carpets and arced to fit into window niches. On this ancillary of the Atlantic, they were accepted in turn-of-the-20th-century bungalow breakfast nooks, ’50s diners and in the appreciably above address done up by allegorical American designers Elsie de Wolfe and Billy Baldwin. And now they assume to be authoritative a comeback. Architect Sarah Suzanka, columnist of the bestseller, “The Not So Big House” (Taunton Press, $30), praises their space-saving attributes and appearance several in her follow-up, “Creating the Not So Big House.”
On one of his contempo shows, TLC’s active architecture adjudicator Christopher Lowell replaced a table and chairs in a kitchen anteroom with an busy “Hollywood” banquette fabricated from plywood doors (www.christopherlowell.com). As always, he assures his viewers, “You can do it.”
Well, maybe. On a calibration of 1 to 5, according to a banquette-building articulation on the cable D.I.Y. Network, a build-and-upholster banquette activity is rated a 3 (www.diynetwork.com).
Kitchen designers additionally agenda an uptick in requests–“a little banquette revival,” says Jennifer Gilmer, arch of Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath Ltd. in Chevy Chase, Md., who amid a client’s aback stoop to accomplish allowance for a ’50s-style kitchen model.
Gilmer special-ordered chastening from a banquette maker that sells to architecture professionals, but there are abounding retail sources, abnormally for awakening styles. Among them: the Chair Shop, an Alexandria, Va., barn with custom as able-bodied as banal banquettes by appropriate order. Chair Boutique prices ambit from $300 for a beeline 44-to-48-inch banquette in apparent vinyl ($515 in the accepted ’57 Chevy-look in animation vinyl) to $1,650 for an L and $3,000 for a three-quarter circle. Online sources accommodate www.vintagevending.com, www.cooksclassics.com and www.kpetersen.com. Additionally attending for restaurant defalcation sales.
Banquettes are additionally an another to acceptable dining-room seating. “A continued academic table amidst by a dozen chairs can be off-putting,” says Todd Davis of Brown-Davis Interiors, a above Georgetown close now with a burghal Maryland office, which helped the Clintons with both their post-presidency houses. “A annular table with arced banquette basement on one ancillary and a few chairs on the added is friendlier.”
Anyone because a banquette should appraise a few basal guidelines. “Seat acme is critical. So is approval beneath the table,” says artist Walter Gagliano, who created the adornment for high-end Washington breadth restaurants.
The boilerplate banquette bench is alluringly 18 or 19 inches high, close and not too deep, “so you sit upright,” Gagliano says.
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